Republican Party staffer Elizabeth Lauten is the latest high profile individual to lose her digital composure via social media:
“Dear Sasha and Malia, I get you’re both in those awful teen years, but you’re a part of the First Family, try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play. Then again your mother and father don’t respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter, so I’m guessing you’re coming up a little short in the ‘good role model’ department. Nevertheless, stretch yourself. Rise to the occasion. Act like being in the White House matters to you. Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar. And certainly don’t make faces during televised public events.”
That is what Lauten’s Facebook page read following Sasha and Malia Obama’s appearance at the president’s annual turkey pardon last Friday. Crisis costs time, money, customers, and ultimately, certainly in this case, careers, as Lauten resigned the following Monday, Dec. 1. This is the second time Lauten has been under fire for a social media meltdown; “God I love this song. And beach music. AND shagging #pandora,” she tweeted in August.
It is unbelievable how anyone, especially individuals who attract public attention, type these thoughts, re-read their comments, then press “send” for millions to see. Did Lauten think this was an okay remark? Did she think it would go unnoticed?
Herman “Herm” Edwards, Jr., an American football analyst and former head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, speaks to incoming NFL rookies annually, and delivers a similar message each time: “You know the little send button? I’m going to make a new phone, and I’m going to put ‘don’t press send’ so you can think about what you’re getting ready to press. When you press it, you can’t take it back, it’s out there.” I bet Justine Sacco wished she had Edward’s ‘don’t press send’ feature when she tweeted carelessly about AIDS in Africa. And I bet Lauten wishes the same thing, along with countless others.
Once it’s out there, it’s out there. Even when regret kicks in hours, minutes, or even seconds later, and you “delete” a post, it’s still out there. Social media has opened the flood gates for news and information to travel at an alarming rate. Points can be argued and altered, and opinions formed in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, Lauten won’t be the last individual to experience a digital meltdown, only the latest.
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